Building a High-Protein Chipotle Bowl for Athletes
Athletes frequently enjoy stopping at Chipotle for a quick meal on-the-go. It can be helpful for athletes to know the best choices for building a high-protein Chipotle bowl, which can help them with meeting their sports nutrition needs.
Let’s take a look at the protein needs of athletes. Then we will explore ways to build a high-protein Chipotle bowl.
Protein Needs of Athletes
Including lean protein in the diet is important for athletes, as protein has many essential roles in the body. Protein helps transport oxygen and other molecules, provides structure for cells, and serves as enzymes and hormones that help regulate body functions. In addition, protein is necessary for supporting athletes with building and repairing lean muscle mass.
When it comes to protein, athletes are encouraged to spread their protein intake throughout the day with several meals and snacks. In regard to serving size, athletes should aim to eat ~0.25 grams of protein per kg body weight at each eating occasion. In general, this calculates to be in the range of 20-40 grams of protein (1) at each meal/snack, with larger athletes needing more protein than smaller athletes.
As a reminder, eating protein alone will not result in muscle gain. Protein intake must be combined with a well-planned strength and conditioning program to promote muscle growth.
Building a High-Protein Chipotle Bowl for Athletes
Based on the amount of protein athletes should aim to eat at each meal, we will look at ideas for creating a Chipotle bowl that contains ~40 grams of protein.
All the nutrition information included in this article comes from the Chipotle® website. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the Chipotle website.
High-Protein Chipotle Bowl Options
Chipotle offers several lean sources of protein, which are great options for building your burrito bowl. The three protein options at Chipotle that contain the least amount of saturated fat include:
- Chicken: 32 grams of protein, 3 grams saturated fat
- Steak: 21 grams of protein, 2.5 grams saturated fat
- Barbacoa: 24 grams of protein, 2.5 grams saturated fat
*The nutrition facts above are all based upon one serving of the protein choice.
Other Sources of Protein
In addition to protein from chicken or beef, there are other ways to add protein to your bowl. For example, a serving of black beans or pinto beans each provides 8 grams of protein. A serving of cilantro-lime rice (brown or white) provides 4 grams of protein. In addition, a 1-ounce serving of shredded cheese contributes 6 grams of protein, while a serving of roasted chili-corn salsa provides 3 grams.
Example High-Protein Burrito Bowls
Based on this, there are numerous ways athletes can build a Chipotle bowl that provides ~40 grams of protein. Here are several options:
- Chicken, cilantro lime brown rice, black beans (44 grams of protein)
- Steak, cilantro lime brown rice, pinto beans, roasted chili-corn salsa, shredded cheese (42 grams of protein)
- Barbacoa, cilantro lime brown rice, black beans, roasted chili-corn salsa, fajita veggies (40 grams of protein)
Additional Burrtio Bowl Ingredients
When building a Chipotle burrito bowl, I encourage athletes to think beyond protein to add in other important nutrients. Athletes can add carbohydrates to their bowl with rice, beans, and roasted chili-corn salsa.
Including a variety of vegetables, such as freshly made salsas, lettuce, and fajita vegetables can help boost the vitamin and mineral content of your bowl. Finally, guacamole provides a great source of healthy fat, vitamins, and minerals, as well as fiber to your bowl.
Athletes should be sure to load their Chipotle bowls up with nutritious carbohydrate and veggie toppings, thus creating a nutrient-dense bowl that meets your sports nutrition needs.
What About Double Protein Bowls?
A popular option at Chipotle is ordering a bowl with a double serving of protein. A double serving of chicken, steak, or barbacoa will quickly boost the protein content of your bowl (i.e., 64 grams of protein with a double serving of chicken).
Building a bowl with double protein is a good option if you plan to eat part of the bowl now and save the rest for later. If this is your plan, consider ordering tortillas on the side or double rice to ensure you get plenty of carbohydrates in both meals as well.
Plant-Based, High-Protein Chipotle Bowl
Chipotle offers sofritas as a plant-based source of protein for their burritos and bowls. Sofritas are made with soy beans (tofu) that are cooked with a variety of spices, such as cumin, garlic, chili, poblano peppers, and onions for flavor.
Unlike the protein from many plant-based sources, soy protein is considered a complete protein. A complete protein contains all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies cannot make. Thus, this is a great choice for athletes following a plant-based diet to meet their protein needs.
One serving of sofritas provides 8 grams of protein. Therefore, to help meet your protein needs, consider ordering a double-serving of sofritas. Adding in brown rice (4 grams of protein) and black beans (8 grams of protein) will result in a plant-based bowl containing 28 grams of protein.
A Chipotle bowl can be an easy option for athletes to enjoy following a workout to help them with meeting their recovery nutrition needs. The three main priorities for recovery nutrition include:
- Hydration: Replace fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat
- Carbohydrates: Replace carbohydrate stores used for energy
- Protein: Build and repair lean muscle mass
A well-planned Chipotle bowl can easily provide athletes with a great source of both protein and carbohydrates. Many of the bowl toppings (proteins, beans, salsas) contain sodium, which can help with replacing the sodium lost in sweat. Make sure to enjoy your bowl with water to help with meeting your hydration needs and you are set with a great post-workout meal.
Ready to Build a High-Protein Chipotle Bowl for Athletes
You now have a variety of ideas for building a high-protein Chipotle bowl that can help you with meeting your sports nutrition needs. For additional sports nutrition ideas for dining out, check out my blog: 10 Whataburger Healthy Options for Athletes.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.